These adorable Easter Nest Donuts use a quick, homemade chocolate frosting to make store-bought chocolate donuts look just like birds' nests! Fill the center of each "nest" with chocolate eggs or marshmallow Peeps for a fun Easter treat without a lot of effort!
Note: this post was originally published in 2020 and updated in 2022 with new photos and improved instructions.
What does a frosted donut need? MORE frosting you say? Yes, I totally agree! And if that frosting is sculpted into an adorable little nest, filled with cheery Easter candy and/or marshmallow Peeps? Then you've got yourself the most adorable Easter treat (or dare I say - breakfast?!) around!
All you need to make these cute Easter donuts is a box of store-bought chocolate frosted donuts, a few simple pantry ingredients, and some Easter candy. Get your kids involved for a fun and easy family activity!
- Chocolate donuts: I used Entenmann's brand chocolate frosted donuts that come in an 8 pack. If you want to use a different brand or style, no problem! I would advise NOT to use a powdered donut however. Depending on how powdery it is, this could make it harder for the frosting to stick to the surface of the donut.
- Butter: you will need unsalted butter that is completely softened. This makes it much easier to mix the frosting! If you're short on time, see the Tips and tricks section for info on softening butter in the microwave.
- Milk: you could also use half and half or cream, whatever you have in the fridge.
- Peeps: these are an Easter classic! If you don't like Peeps, you can just stick with chocolate eggs. Or really, any fun Easter candy!
- Chocolate eggs: the type I used was Cadbury Mini Eggs. But, any smallish sized chocolate egg would work, or even jelly beans. ***Cadbury Mini Eggs are not recommended for young children as they pose a choking hazard.
In addition to the ingredients above, you'll also need:
- a quart (or gallon) sized zip top bag, and;
- wooden skewer (or, another round-shaped pokey thing?).
Step by step photos
Here is a breakdown of how to make the Easter nest donuts. To see a brief slideshow how-to, check out my web story for this recipe!
1. The first step is to whip the softened butter in a medium bowl. Since we are only making a relatively small amount of frosting, you can do this by hand or use an electric hand mixer.
You just need to beat it enough for it to become smooth and slightly lightened in color.
2. Next, add the vanilla, a small amount of the milk, some of the powdered sugar, the pinch of salt, and the cocoa powder to the bowl. Mix that amount up until it's evenly incorporated and smooth.
If the powdered sugar and cocoa powder is really lumpy, you can put it through a sifter first before adding it to the butter.
3. Continue adding in the powdered sugar and milk in batches, beating the frosting in between each addition.
4. You can adjust the amount of milk a couple drops at a time, until the frosting is the correct consistency. The consistency you are looking for is firm but supple - i.e. not crumbly and stiff, but not goopy.
If the frosting is too stiff, it will be difficult to pipe, and if it's too soft, it won't hold its shape well. Here is a good visual of the texture you are aiming for:
5. Now we are going to prep the donuts for decorating. Take them out of the box and place them on a large piece of parchment or wax paper.
6. Next, scoop the frosting into the plastic bag. To make this easier, I like to place the bag inside a mug or short cup, folding the top of the bag over the lip of the cup. This helps keep the frosting from getting all over the zip top portion of the bag.
7. Once you get the frosting inside the bag, try to push out as much air from the bag as you can, and then seal it. Use the side of your hand to push the frosting to one corner. Then twist the top of the bag to add tension to the bag.
8. Here comes the fun part! Take the wooden skewer and poke a hole right in the corner of the bag where the frosting is. Continue poking about 8 - 10 holes into the corner.
You can squeeze some of the frosting out to see the pattern you have created; if you need to you can widen the holes by pressing the skewer in deeper.
9. Now squeeze the frosting onto the donuts, going around and around until you are happy with the "nest" pattern you have created.
10. Finally, decorate the center of the Easter donuts with either marshmallow Peeps or chocolate eggs. Enjoy!
Tips and tricks
How to quickly soften butter in the microwave
Ok, so I mentioned in the Recipe ingredients section above how it's super important to soften the butter before making the frosting. If you don't, it will be much harder to mix up the frosting and to tell what the true consistency will be once it reaches room temperature.
If you don't have 30 minutes or so to let your butter sit out at room temperature, here's what to do:
- chop the butter up into small cubes and place it into a small, microwave-safe bowl.
- Microwave on 30% power for 10 seconds.
- Stir, and microwave again on 30% power for another 10 seconds.
- Repeat this process until the butter is softened. For me this usually takes 2 - 3 turns.
- If it starts to slightly melt around the edges it'll still work ok, but don't go any further than that!
Other tips and tricks
- This Easter donut recipe calls for only a small amount of frosting, and, it doesn't need to be really fluffy since it's piped through small holes. Therefore, you can make the frosting with a whisk, rather than using electric beaters if you like. This is my preferred method when I am making this recipe with my kids - much less messy!
- When mixing the frosting by hand, it's much easier if you mix in the powdered sugar and milk in small batches, rather than adding them all at once.
- Buttercream frosting is pretty forgiving. So, if you add in a little too much powdered sugar and it's too stiff, just mix in a couple drops more milk. Alternatively, if the frosting is too wet, mix in a bit more powdered sugar.
- The key to adjusting the consistency of the frosting is to make SMALL changes! A few drops of milk at a time can make a big difference.
- After you decorate the Easter donuts, I recommend using a spatula if you need to move them - this helps to prevent your fingers from mushing the frosting on the sides and keeps any candy from falling out if your donuts have larger holes.
I made 8 donuts, but I did have some frosting left over. So, depending on the size of the donuts you want to use, and how much frosting you use for each one, I estimate you could decorate about 10 - 11 donuts with the amount of frosting in the recipe. If you want to make more, you can always double the frosting recipe.
I actually don't recommend making the donut nests much ahead of time. They will look the most beautiful and taste the freshest if you eat them right away, especially if you've added the Peeps - no one likes a stale Peep (or maybe someone out there does? If so, you do you!).
You could make the nests an hour or two ahead of time and leave them out at room temperature, tightly covered (hopefully in a container with high enough sides so the frosting doesn't get mushed!). If you go this route, just know the buttercream will form a very thin crust on the outside, but should remain soft on the inside. The longer you leave the donuts out, the less soft the frosting will be.
While I don't recommend making these donuts much in advance, you CAN prepare the buttercream ahead of time. Just keep it tightly covered in the fridge, for up to 3 - 4 days. Before you are ready to use it, let it come to room temperature and give it a good whisk. Then you should be ready to start making some nests!
You can leave the donuts out at room temperature, stored in an airtight container, for up to 2 days. But, I really recommend eating any leftovers by the next day; much longer and the donut will start to get stale and the frosting will continue to get drier.
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An easy and quick Easter treat that the whole family can help with! Decorate store-bought donuts with a simple homemade frosting to make "nests" you can fill with marshmallow Peeps and chocolate eggs.
- 8 store-bought chocolate frosted donuts (see notes 1 - 2)
- 2 cups (230 g) powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml) milk or cream (approximate amount)
- 4 tablespoons (57 g) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 4 teaspoons (10 g) cocoa powder
- pinch of salt
- assorted Peeps and small candy-coated chocolate eggs (see note 3)
- 1 quart-sized zip top bag (gallon-sized bag can be substituted)
- 1 wooden skewer
- Sift the powdered sugar and/or cocoa powder only if they are very lumpy (measure first, sift second!). Set aside.
- Place the softened butter into a medium-sized bowl. With either a whisk or hand beaters, mix the butter well until it is smooth and slightly fluffy.
- Add the vanilla and a few drops of milk to the bowl, along with the cocoa powder, pinch of salt, and about ½ cup of the powdered sugar. Whisk or beat until smooth. Continue to whisk or beat in the remaining powdered sugar in small amounts, alternating with a few drops of the milk, until all the powdered sugar has been incorporated and the frosting is smooth and pliable but still holds its shape. You may end up needing a little more or less milk than the 2 tablespoons called for. (If your frosting ends up too thick or too thin, see note 4!)
- Spread the donuts out onto a piece of parchment paper, wax paper, or aluminum foil.
- Place the frosting into a quart-sized zip top bag. Press down the frosting to one corner of the bag. Squeeze out as much excess air as possible from the bag and seal it. Twist the top of the bag so the frosting forms a firm cone shape in the corner of the bag.
- With the wooden skewer, poke 8 - 10 small holes, close together, in and around the corner of the bag containing the frosting. You can make the holes smaller or larger by either poking all the way through to the thickest part of the skewer, or just using the tip of the skewer. Adjust the frosting pattern by widening some holes if needed, or adding more.
- Pipe the frosting onto the donuts in a circular shape until you are happy with the appearance of the "nests."
- Fill the center of each frosted donut with a marshmallow Peep or chocolate eggs.
- For best results, serve immediately (recommended), or store at room temperature for 1 - 2 hours, tightly covered. Leftovers can be kept at room temperature, tightly covered, for 1 - 2 days.
1. I used Entenmann's brand of chocolate frosted donuts that come in an 8 pack. Depending on how much frosting you use on each donut and the size of the donuts you are using, you may be able to frost up to 10 - 11 donuts. If you want to make more, you can always make a double batch of frosting.
2. Powdered donuts are not recommended as it may make the frosting harder to adhere to the donut.
3. ***If serving these donuts to young children: the Cadbury Mini Eggs I used are not recommended for young children as they pose a choking hazard.***
4. If your frosting ends up too runny or too stiff, don't worry, here's what to do: For too thin frosting, just sprinkle in a small amount of extra powdered sugar (start with about 1 tablespoon). Whisk that in and add a little more if needed, until the frosting holds its shape well on the whisk or beater. For too thick frosting, add only a couple drops of extra milk at a time, whisking or beating in between, until the correct consistency is achieved. A very small amount of liquid can change a lot, so go slow!
5. The frosting can be made 3 - 4 days ahead of time, stored in an airtight container in the fridge. Before using, let the frosting come to room temperature and then whisk it well.
6. The nutrition information below was calculated using 1 Peep as the filling for each donut. This nutrition information is an estimate only, provided by an online nutrition calculator. This information should not be considered a substitute for professional medical, health, or nutritional advice. See our full disclosure policy.
- Serving Size: 1 donut
- Calories: 495
- Sugar: 52.9 g
- Sodium: 234 mg
- Fat: 25.1 g
- Saturated Fat: 16.5 g
- Carbohydrates: 66.6 g
- Fiber: 1.3 g
- Protein: 5.2 g
- Cholesterol: 30 mg
Keywords: Easter donuts, Easter nest donuts